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New Digital Cockpit 2020 teases revamped Bixby in the car at CES

Samsung brought its Digital Cockpit 2020 at CES to demonstrate its vision of a smart vehicle powered by 5G. The new cockpit was developed by Samsung and its subsidiary HARMAN International, and it’s packed with technologies.

This includes facial recognition for biometric authentication, eight displays, eight cameras, as well as an Exynos Auto V9 SoC. It also features a “revamped Bixby in the car” as well as Dex for vehicles, and the system runs Android 10, providing easy compatibility with Samsung’s other devices.

Revamped Bixby in the car becomes smarter with 5G

Not unlike the 2019 concept, Samsung’s new Digital Cockpit is capable of two-way connections with your home, office, and other places using 5G networking. For example, Bixby in the car can leverage SmartThings to detect visitors at home and notify the driver accordingly. Likewise, the revamped Bixby in the car can make various suggestions for other connected devices, ranging from home appliances to lights. It may suggest to turn on a certain device in your house while you’re on your way home.

In addition, Bixby in the car has a Driver Monitoring System which can make suggestions to improve the driver’s mood. For instance, it can detect whenever the driver is getting tired during a long-distance drive and suggests ways to combat fatigue, such as playing music. Bixby in the car can also actively monitor the vehicle’s various components and parameters. It can read engine oil levels provide alerts for when the car might have to visit a maintenance shop.

But car monitoring through Bixby is not new and it’s not entirely clear if the revamped version can read additional parameters.

A closer look at the displays

Samsung’s Digital Cockpit 2020 is filled with displays, as you would expect. There’s a Center Information Display that can provide information such as tasks and schedules once the driver is authenticated via facial recognition or a connected smartphone’s fingerprint reader. The same panel provides access to documents via Samsung DeX for vehicles.

Then there is the Front Display which offers navigation information. It features QLED Local Dimming technology and a split-screen mode for passengers.

Visual notifications and alerts are delivered through the Dashboard Display located under the aforementioned Front Display. Meanwhile, the Console Display offers a variety of settings for the vehicle and the infotainment system as a whole.

Interestingly enough, the two displays you see mounted in the back (on the front seat headrests) are not part of the Digital Cockpit 2020 per se. They are regular tablets that can be attached to the headrests by passengers. Once connected to the Digital Cockpit, these tablets can offer controls for in-car ambient lighting, the speakers, and air conditioning.

To make the experience that much more pleasant for passengers, the rear seats come with their own speakers embedded in the headrests. Passengers can also connect multiple mobile devices to the Digital Cockpit, and unlike the 2019 Cockpit showcased more recenly at IFA last year, the new 2020 model handles all of these connections wirelessly.

Safety features and a bonkers microLED tail light

Samsung’s Digital Cockpit 2020 is enriched with a handful of safety features, the more striking of which is the large 53.7-inch microLED Tail Display. Funnily enough, it isn’t part of the cockpit itself and, instead, it runs across the back of the “car.” It’s powered by V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communication technology similar to the 2019 concept, except it’s now paired with a new Tail Display. It can provide information to other traffic participants and show warnings for “road work ahead” or “accident ahead”, for example.

As one might expect, there are no conventional side mirrors in Samsung’s vision, just like there were no mirrors in the 2019 concept. Instead, the Digital Cockpit comes with two 7-inch displays on each side of the dashboard, acting as digital mirrors powered by external cameras. But there’s more to it. The system monitors the vehicle’s surroundings (in areas adjustable by the driver) to assess the risk of accidents while parking or driving.

Finally, there’s the new Cabin Talk feature which allows drivers to talk to back seat passengers without having to turn their heads. Samsung didn’t go into many details but it likely leverages the interior microphones and speakers to do the trick.

We might never see this exact configuration of tech and interior design in a commercial vehicle, but Samsung’s Digital Cockpit 2020 acts as a demonstration of what car manufacturers can achieve using Samsung and HARMAN technologies. It’s also a demonstration of how the 5G era could change the way we interact with our cars.

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